I recently saw an exhibit at the British Museum regarding the importance of timekeeping and physical direction for Muslims. Salat times refers to times when Muslims perform prayers (salat). The term is primarily used for the five daily prayers plus the Friday prayer. According to Muslim beliefs, the salat times were taught by Allah to Muhammad. Prayer times are standard for Muslims in the world, especially the fard prayer times. They depend on the condition of the Sun and geography. There are varying opinions regarding the exact salat times, the schools of Islamic thought differing in minor details. All schools agree that any given prayer cannot be performed before its stipulated time. The five prayers are Fajr (pre-dawn), Dhuhr (midday), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset) and Isha’a (night). Thus a keen interest was instilled in devout Muslims about the time and direction needed for prayers. The beautiful Arabic astrolabe shown above is made of brass inlaid with silver and copper by Abd al-Karim al-Misri from 1235-1236 CE. Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Fazari (died 796 or 806) is credited with the first astrolabe in the Islamic world in the 8th century. While some sources refer to him as an Arab, other sources state that he was a Persian. Al-Fazārī translated many scientific books into Arabic and Persian.